That stretch of sidewalk, right there. It's where I fell last night in the rain. It was past seven and my mind was preoccupied with a change to a story that had been asked for just before I left work, a change that didn't make sense to me, and I wasn't paying attention to how I placed my feet. My right clog twisted to the side as it came down, throwing me off balance. I tried to correct, stiffening and swiveling, but realized very quickly that to fight gravity would only cause greater injury, so I let go, loosened every muscle and let myself fall splat onto the wet sidewalk, it seemed like I was falling forever, rainwater soaking my clothes, my legs splayed out like a child in a sandbox.
People kept walking by under their umbrellas, which to me was a mercy, my dignity sorely bruised, my right knee and thigh too. As I sat there for a beat, contemplating the most graceful way to push myself up from that wet ground, a hand appeared, small and mapped with raised blue veins, and beyond it the kind face of an older woman, maybe in her seventies. "Are you okay?"she said worriedly. "Here, take my hand." I didn't dare. She was small and bird like and I would have pulled her down with me. "Thank you," I said, rushing now to stand and spare her any further concern. "I'm okay, I'm okay."
Another hand came into view, held out by a man, also elderly, somewhat older than the woman. These were the two Samaritans who noticed me sitting there on the sidewalk and came to my aid. His hand looked steadier, and I was halfway up by then, so I touched his fingers briefly to orient myself as I thanked him too. The older lady bent to pick up my purse, and handed it to me, peering into my face, her brow creased. I smiled bravely and assured them both I was fine, I really truly was, and I thanked them again, and watched them go off in separate directions, realizing they weren't a couple as I had assumed, just two older people who probably understood the ways in which the body can betray you in a moment when you're not paying enough attention.
I limped off into the rainy night, on the lookout for a cab home. Once inside, the meter ticking, I allowed myself to survey the damage, to tune in to the places that were sore. Not too bad, all things considered, but still I felt sorry for myself, just a bit. I texted my son, the one who knows how bones and muscles and tendons and nerves all travel together. I told his voice mail I had fallen and he called me back at once, and somehow, hearing him on the other end of the line, asking me measured diagnostic questions, instructing me what to look out for, lecturing me to go back to physical therapy, telling me he loves me, I knew I really was okay.